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Portables Power Technology Hardware

Computer Factories Are the Energy Hogs 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the fewer-drills-more-glue dept.
coondoggie writes "The main idea behind saving energy in the high-tech world has been to buy newer, more energy efficient devices, but researchers say that may be the wrong way to look at the issue, since as much as 70% of the energy a typical laptop will consume during its life span is used in manufacturing the computer (abstract). More energy would be conserved by reducing power used in the manufacturing of computers, rather than reducing only the amount of energy required to operate them, say researchers from Arizona State University and Rochester Institute of Technology."
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Computer Factories Are the Energy Hogs

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  • Battery life! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15, 2011 @07:48AM (#35827454)

    I'm more interested in the battery life then total energy savings!

    • Indeed. And how much more energy does it take to recycle the batteries that burn up faster if the laptops use more energy?

    • That's just it - the reason these mobile devices require far less energy to run than was required to manufacture them is that they're optimized for higher battery life, and therefore use relatively little power.

      Compare this to desktops with 600W power supplies and I bet the figures will be completely different.

      • A typtical desktop might have a 600W power supply (though that's probably on the high side for non-enthusiasts), but during normal use, which for a typical desktop is around 90% idle, it doesn't use anywhere near that much.

        • This is true, of course, but there's still an an order of magnitude of difference between the actual power consumption of a laptop (10-40W + wall wart inefficiency depending on load) and a desktop (100-300W + PSU inefficiencies).

          • My laptop has a 110W power supply, actually.... thought it's true, most of the time it's not under load. Even with the 24" LED (one of these [www.benq.ca]) I use as a 2nd display when it's docked at home, the system is using less than 75W total consumption (unless I'm gaming), and you'll struggle to find a desktop that approaches that kind of efficiency without getting something like a VIA C7 or other specialty system (I have a C7 1.5GHz-based system with 2GB of RAM and a 120GB laptop hard drive, and it draws 21W under l

            • A desktop with similar performance characteristics (Core i7 quad, Radeon HD 4870 graphics) is going to draw 150-200W when idle.

              + at least 2 monitors at 40W a piece... why buy a Radeon 4870 if you're not going to hook up a screen (or 6)? :D

        • by i_b_don (1049110)

          Ok, actual numbers since I've got a "Kill-A-Watt" power monitor hooked up to my computer recently. I'm a gamer so this includes a high end graphics card, a not very efficient quad core CPU, 4 GB mem, 1 SSD, 1 HDD, a 24" LCD.

          Playing a game: 360 W (SC2 if you must know...)
          Normal Desktop use: 260-290W
          Sleep Mode: 120 W
          Power Off: 15W (From 5.1 speakers and monitor standby I believe)

          What surprised me the most was how inefficient sleep mode was.

          d

          • by acohen1 (1454445)

            Wow 120 W basically just to keep the memory clock refreshing? I'd guess you might not be in the right ACPI state for sleep mode, since laptops in sleep mode can last for a week on batteries that only last 2-4 hours in use, there should be a much larger decline there.

      • The PSU might be 600W, but to give you some real world figures, lets take my system.

        Built in 2006, Core2 Duo 1.86Ghz, GeForce 9600 graphics, 4GB ram, 2 hard drives, dvd RW drive, 550w PSU.
        With everything going full throttle, it uses about 225 watts. At idle, it uses about 160 watts.

        When you factor in the energy (in)efficiency of the PSU (lets say 75% at idle, 80% at full load), you get a total energy requirement of the components of 160*.75= 120w minimum (idle), 225*.8=180w. So between 120w and 180w are b

        • I never said that a PC with a 600W PSU actually draws 600W - just that they use a lot more power than a laptop, which generally draws between 10 and 40W depending on the load and hardware... and that's INCLUDING the screen, which typically isn't the case for PC power consumption figures.

    • Many chip manufactures are making great progress along that area. ARM chips and the Atom from Intel both are designed to address the energy consumption issue.

      On the power consumption issue on servers, both manufacturing energy and operating energy has been drastically slashed.
      The just announced 10 core server chips with Hyperthreading mean much lower power consumption and a much smaller server footprint. The addition of solid state drives reduces CPU idle time.

      I just saw a demo of a 4 CPU 10 core server.

  • That may be true, but unless it takes more energy to produce energy efficient computers than the savings in running them, it's still a net savings.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      What happens if you avoid buying a new one? Keep the old one for a while longer... eg. until it actually stops working.

      • That really depends on the usage. if you take 10 P33's and use them to do protein folding, it would probably be an overall energy savings to replace them with a single Core i7 laptop, even if you factor in the cost to produce the new laptop. You would gain more operations per second for less total energy cost.

        • A top end core i7 would demolish any number of P4s in both performance and energy used. Newer architectures use smaller manufacturing, which requires less energy, have better performance-per-hz, and have better idling technologies.

          To look at concrete numbers (source: [wikipedia.org]), lets take a Pentium 90mhz, which makes things easy by drawing 9.0w of power. It gets 10 mhz per watt. Lets compare to a hex-core Core i7 970, running @ 3.2gHz with a draw of 130w. It gets 24.6mhz per watt; and if you break it down to per-

      • by JanneM (7445)

        Keeping the computer for as long as it works is a good idea, absolutely. In my limited experience, though, a laptop really isn't made to last much longer then the typical 3-4 years they get used.

        I've always "used up" my laptops the past decade or so. I have big machines at work for the heavy lifting, and any decent laptop made the last ten years is enough for my surfing, writing and so on. I'm a heavy user, admittedly, but so far my track record is 3-4 years.

        The screen dims and grows red as the (non-replace

        • by poity (465672)

          Reading /. on an 8 year old laptop here. Replaced just about everything except for the mobo and screen (even resoldered a snapped USB port). In my experience first thing that fails on any laptop is the exhaust system, it overheats and shortens the life of everything else inside. You can find a lot of "broken" laptops on ebay that are just clogged up systems or systems with failed fans that crash due to heat issues rather than computer hardware failure. There would be less people buying new laptops if we cou

      • by tukang (1209392)
        You don't even have to avoid buying a new one. Just by putting your old laptop on ebay you're doing the environment a great favor. It doesn't go to a landfill, you're destroying demand (so less new computers need to be manufactured), and the person who bought it from you will likely care for the computer because they paid for it. If you think your old laptop isn't worth anything then just start the auction at a penny. I got $70 for a laptop I had no use for.
        • by skids (119237)

          This is an important point. If replacements ripple down through the used market so that extremely old systems are the ones being scrapped, while others are simply repurposed, it chages the equation somewhat. Still not enough in the case of computing for energy savings to be a sole motivator for upgrades, but still, trying to hand off your old systems to people running even older systems is a Good Thing (TM).

    • Also, the productivity increases allowed by the use of laptops and computers far outweigh the alternative energy costs, by several orders of magnitude I'd say. I'm all for efficiency, but there is a distressing tendency to look at any energy use as being a bad thing. Energy is not in short supply, the only deficiency is in our ability to harness it effectively, an issue which I anticipate will be addressed over the coming fifty to a hundred years.

      • What productivity increase? When it comes to the most common use of computers, the office and normal home use (email, documents, web browsing, listening to music), performance ceased to be an issue over half a decade ago which is why Netbooks and Net tops got away with using a new CPU design slower than that of the old Pentium-M series. A faster CPU cannot make the internet come to your computer any faster or you type a document any quicker.
        • Ok, how about using a computer vs. flying there in person. How about using Google, Wikipedia, etc. vs. driving to the library. How about eBay instead of driving to the flea market. The material science, engineering, etc. that wouldn't otherwise be possible with out computers, the absence of which would require heavier materials, more resource intense manufacturing processes, etc. Productivity? The world is seething with productivity increases at the hands of ever advancing computer technology.
        • I was more referring to using laptops versus say pen and paper.

    • by danhaas (891773)

      That's the case when the energy of building a new one is more than the double of the energy consumed by the total lifespan of the laptop. (remember that 70% is used to manufacture, 30% to operate it). Even if a newer one consumes zero energy, the manufacturing process will offset that.

      As a mechanical engineer, I can tell you that bending, cutting or melting metal requires a LOT of energy. Try manufacturing a screw from a piece of metal using just simple tools and you will understand it.

      If you want precision

    • There's also nothing necessarily bad about upfront energy costs. If the source of energy used in the manufacture of the components comes from solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, geo-thermal, etc. then the energy comes with a near zero cost related to green-house gasses and other environmental pollutants.
  • by Dan East (318230) on Friday April 15, 2011 @07:52AM (#35827484) Homepage Journal

    And of course if it requires less power to manufacture, then it is less expensive to produce. Thus the prices of consumer electronics would drop. Wait for it... wait for it.... Bwahahahahahahahaha! Oh I just cracked myself up. The only difference we'd see is a little green sticker on the box where the OEM is bragging about saving the environment or something.

    • And of course if it requires less power to manufacture, then it is less expensive to produce. Thus the prices of consumer electronics would drop. Wait for it... wait for it.... Bwahahahahahahahaha! Oh I just cracked myself up. The only difference we'd see is a little green sticker on the box where the OEM is bragging about saving the environment or something.

      You're right. The prices of consumer electronics never drop.

    • Yeah, I still can't get over the fact that even low end desktop PCs still cost over $1,000...oh wait, no they don't.
    • by hsmith (818216)
      Yeah, evil capitalism, that is why 256k of RAM is still $5,000
  • If the energy is green enough then its not a issue. Bring on the Green! Nuclear Reactors. Not the ones with pumps that can fail.
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      The problem is there isn't any sort of completely "green" energy source.

      The process of building a thermal solar generating system will produce a great deal of waste and it will likely use hazardous chemicals that will leak and cause environmental damage.

      Certainly the process of making PV solar cells, wind turbines, or virtually anything else will involve great expenditures of energy, hazardous chemicals and lots and lots of waste. Just refining the metals alone is going to use tremendous amounts of energy,

  • As much as... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fridaynightsmoke (1589903) on Friday April 15, 2011 @07:56AM (#35827520) Homepage

    Apart from the weasely "as much as"; interesting that laptops are being compared, knowing that they have much lower power consumption (on average) than desktops while requiring almost the same amount of manufacturing.

    As a quick back-of-an-envelope calculation; a 100W computer, used for 5 hours a day, 6 days a week for 5 years uses 780kWh of electricity. At current approximate UK prices that's £125 ($200 US). If computer manufacturing uses a significant fraction of that amount of power, then there is already a BIG incentive for the manufacturers to use less. If you tell them "you should use less of this thing that costs you money!" they will likely reply "well, duh", or if current trends continue they'll say "well, as part of our Greener World Of Tomorrow Plan, we're actively trying to reduce..."

    • Re:As much as... (Score:5, Informative)

      by tixxit (1107127) on Friday April 15, 2011 @08:51AM (#35827996)
      Unfortunately, most laptops are not manufactured in Britain, but in countries with much cheaper (and dirtier) electricity.
      • Unfortunately, most laptops are not manufactured in Britain, but in countries with much cheaper (and dirtier) electricity.

        The price of the electricity is still very significant; in China for instance the electricity is cheaper than in the UK, but then everything else is too.

        A little light research gives a wholesale price of $0.07 (£0.043)/kWh - http://www.vneconomynews.com/2011/03/china-attempts-to-raise-electricity.html [vneconomynews.com] - so the retail price will be higher than that. Even at the wholesale price, using the calculation i used above that comes to some £30 of electricity, and £30 is a lot of money in China.

      • by Idbar (1034346)
        I'd say that a percentage of the price is a reduction in costs no matter how cheap electricity is. Particularly when you can save overtime. Moreover, if you have an efficiently enough plant, you can even generate your own electricity further reducing the costs of manufacturing.

        Hey, half the price is half the price no matter the original cost.
    • Apart from the weasely "as much as"; interesting that laptops are being compared, knowing that they have much lower power consumption (on average) than desktops while requiring almost the same amount of manufacturing.

      They probably compare laptops because laptop sales are higher than desktop sales. Most new computers are laptops.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Probably a good portion of that is because they break so often and are far less repairable than a desktop machine.

        Convienent? Sure, but the price is lack of repairability and a fragile nature. End result is a lot more laptops just get "used up" in one way or another and they are treated as a disposible commodity.

    • by jittles (1613415)

      Apart from the weasely "as much as"; interesting that laptops are being compared, knowing that they have much lower power consumption (on average) than desktops while requiring almost the same amount of manufacturing.

      For the average user on /. I am sure that the energy consumption for manufacturing a laptop is MUCH higher than a desktop. For instance, I have been using the same case, PSU, monitor, keyboard, mouse and such for years, even through several CPUs and motherboards. It's just much easier to recycle a desktop's components.

    • You pay 0.25USD/kWh? owned (it's 0.07USD/kWh in california...)

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday April 15, 2011 @07:57AM (#35827534)

    I've often wondered why I never hear that mentioned when people talk about clean energy. How much energy and resources go into making a single solar panel or wind turbine? Anyone?

    • by bunratty (545641)

      Not much energy goes into making a solar panel. Solar panel prices have been dropping dramatically over the past decades, and that would not be possible if they consumed lots of energy during manufacture because energy prices have gone up during that time. Currently, solar panels cost on the order of $1 per watt of power they can generate. Consuming one watt of electricity for a year costs on the order of $1. If the solar panel produces maximum power for an average of eight hours per day, it can generate at

      • I just calculated how much time a wind turbine system would pay itself off in my area, and I found it would pay for itself in ten years. Again, if it's paying for itself, it must be generating more energy than it took to produce it, because it would be cheaper to just buy the energy directly rather than indirectly purchase more energy by purchasing the turbine system.

        Did you factor in the energy cost of replacement blades and gearboxes over the life of the turbine in your calculations?

        • by amorsen (7485)

          You don't replace wings. Gearboxes are only replaced if they fail; their design life time is supposed to be as long as the life time of the entire turbine (at least 20 years).

      • by mangu (126918)

        If the solar panel produces maximum power for an average of eight hours per day

        then you need a tracking system. A fixed solar panel only produces maximum power once per year.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The energy balance analysis in the case of the Vestas V90 3.0 MW shows that, for an offshore wind turbine 0.57 years (6.8 months) of expected average energy production are necessary to recover all the energy consumed for manufacturing, operation, transport, dismantling and disposal.

      http://www.wind-energy-the-facts.org/en/environment/chapter-1-environmental-benefits/energy-balance-analysis.html

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      You should try listening to people talk about clean energy, then. It's one of the most common canards out there.

      As for how much energy goes into making a solar panel, you can search for it yourself. Google is easy to use. Hint: in general, energy recapture time (amount of time before the energy the device produces is greater than the energy used to produce the device) is shorter than payback time (amount of time before the value of the energy it produces is greater than the cost of the device).

    • When people mention so-called "clean" energy they sweep under the rug any inconvenient fact.

      Both solar and wind power are very diffuse, they need huge areas of land. They say, "oh, it's just desert" if you mention the fact that you need hundreds or thousands of times more area for a solar plant than for a nuclear plant of the same power capacity.

      Mention how wind turbines kill birds and bats and they will say "oh, that was the Altamont pass, that's obsolete by now". They never mention how obsolete the Cherno

      • by bunratty (545641)
        A 100 mile by 100 mile solar power plant would provide the power needed by all of the United States [americanen...ndence.com]. Once constructed, it would need no continual refueling by mining or drilling materials such as coal, oil, or fissionable material. It would generate nearly no waste products. The source of power would never run out as long as the Earth is habitable. I don't think it would have a noticeable impact on the weather; if you can find some research that suggests it might I would be interested in seeing it. The real
      • I'm not just sure if you're just trolling, but here goes:

        * The only green energy is the one you don't use. Reducing our consumption is the only way to go. Still, it doesn't prevent us from saying that solar power is greener than coal or oil.

        * Very diffuse? Sure, every energy source is diffuse compared to fission, fusion or oil. But in most European countries, producing 100% of the energy demand with solar panels would require to cover about 40% of the available roof area. It would be stupid to do so, but 50

    • Not sure on the wind turbine front, but vehicle-wise The Argonne National Lab. developed the GREET model (http://greet.es.anl.gov/). It's a Life Cycle Cost Analysis model for the evaluation of various vehicles and fuel combinations on a full fuel-cycle/vehicle-cycle basis. You end up with cool conclusions like "According to the GREET model a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) that weighs 2,632 pounds requires 102 million BTU to make, or 38,650 BTU/lb. This small difference in production energy becomes negligibl
  • "Our new Macbooks are so energy efficient, they take even less energy to run than to manufacture them in the first place, making the lifetime energy consumption (% of total) our lowest EVER!"

    • Except that the machining process for the unibody chassis is very energy intensive (expensive), as opposed to a casting or molded plastic part.
      • by Cloud K (125581)

        Yeah it appears you missed the joke about marketing spin, seems to have gone over a few heads that one.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday April 15, 2011 @08:01AM (#35827572) Homepage

    The part you are supposed to care about is when you own and use it, not how it was made -- that is a matter that happens before it gets to you, so it doesn't concern you. Now, when I am saving energy, do I need to wear a green rubber band on my wrist? I've got this white one, yellow one, pink one... everyone needs to know what a great person I am.

    • i really don't care how much power it takes to make or how much power i use at home. if the power we have now is somehow bad, lets focus on finding cleaner power then we don't have to reduce how much we use.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      The part you are supposed to care about is when you own and use it, not how it was made -- that is a matter that happens before it gets to you, so it doesn't concern you.

      If energy costs accurately reflected the long-term harm of energy extraction, consumers wouldn't have to worry about anything but saving money. Cap and trade, anyone? Carbon tax? Personally I would vote for those things in a heartbeat, except there's no way to implement them globally. So we are stuck in a race to the bottom.

  • Economics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tbannist (230135) on Friday April 15, 2011 @08:03AM (#35827582)

    This isn't really a consumer issue. There's no easy way for a purchaser to determine how much energy went into creating a computer, on the other hand, the amount of electricity used by the device however is easily determined and verifiable independently. Plus the purchasers pays the cost of running the machine as a separate cost, while the cost of the energy to produce the device in bundled in the purchase price. That's why people look more at how much power the computer uses (when they look at all).

    Reducing the energy required to produce computers is essentially a manufacturer concern and they should already be working on that as a competitive cost advantage. I would guess it's probably not happening because most of these items are manufactured in countries that heavily subsidize their power systems and thus encourage waste by not requiring users to pay the full cost of the power they use. You want to reduce the power wasted during the production of goods? Stop subsidizing power usage and make sure the full costs are bore by the manufacturers. That's one of the reasons why a carbon tax would be disastrous. Companies will adapt to the tax and focus their efforts on more efficient production.

    • I would add to the above good commentary that the figure quoted, 70% of total energy used in production, probably applies to very many consumer devices (no, not just electronics). How much energy does a hand mixer use compared to what it takes to make it? Rechargable electric razor? I agree that this is a misleading and probably not very valuable metric.
      • Indeed. People should start asking the same question about the energy of manufacture vs. lifetime energy consumption of dining tables. Then they would realize they're not asking the right question.
    • Re:Economics (Score:4, Insightful)

      by trout007 (975317) on Friday April 15, 2011 @08:16AM (#35827682)

      That is the beauty of price. It lets you know the most efficient way to do something without having to calculate how much of everything is used along the way. The only flaw like you stated is when the market is prevented from working correctly. Things like targeted taxes or tax breaks, subsidies, price control, and letting companies pollute in a way that externalizes costs (dumping waste in public water/air vs paying for proper disposal.)

      • Well, the problem with your logic is that we don't pay anything for oil : we only pay the middle-person that extracts/refines/delivers it.

    • by Burz (138833)

      That's one of the reasons why a carbon tax would be disastrous. Companies will adapt to the tax and focus their efforts on more efficient production.

      Seems that one of the habits of freemarket fanaticism is contradicting one's own arguments.

      In any case, markets will not adjust themselves to reflect the environmental toll taken by their activities. They look for ways to externalize costs (usually to the environment) instead of adopting truly efficient and sustainable practices.

      • by tbannist (230135)

        You're right, I meant to say "would not be disastrous". The point being that they'll adapt to the tax by reducing the behavior that's taxed.

    • Thanks for posting that.
  • Forget about "total energy budgets" and such things. When companies say they are replacing hardware to save energy costs, they are talking about their energy costs. The manufacturers are welcome to cut their own energy usage and pocket the savings, but businesses don't care about that.

    Sine it costs roughly £1 per year for every Watt of a 24*7*365 machine (and more if you have cooling costs, too) the cost of powering a box can easily exceed the purchase cost - even without playing accountancy games s

  • One of the biggest issues is how often modern computers break down.

    I see an awful lot of computers coming in to me that have failed due to broken connections on their motherboards. Mostly somewhere under the north- or southbridge chips, I think. Wherever the are, it is not repairable, at least, not without reflow stations and solder masks for every chip out there. Even then your return rate is going to be so high that you just couldn't do it. I don't know if it stands up to scrutiny, but I am blaming the si

    • It's not so much the move from tin-lead as it is the move to BGA technologies. BGA's have become very common and are a nightmare to solder. If they aren't done right you can have all kinds of thermal issues pop up later, after the boards are out in consumer's hands. The boards can be repaired but I'm not a real big fan of reflow.
  • I care about energy usage for one reason...battery life. A laptop consumes about the same amount of energy as a 60w light bulb. So does it really matter in the larger scheme of things? And I'd think that manufacturers are already trying to make their operations as energy efficient as possible, because it affects their bottom line.

    The reason why I use compact florescent bulbs instead of conventional light bulbs is because if you replace EVERY SINGLE BULB in my entire house, the energy savings add up. Bu
  • At US$0.10 / kilowatt hour, that would be $120 worth of juice in a new laptop. That really can't be right, so it is obvious that they are not simply counting revolutions of a power meter.

    So what does it mean? Did they use the same math to figure out how many megajoules it takes to deliver a kilowatt-hour of electricity. Do you count the manufacturing energy costs in making all the equipment (circuit breaker panel, circuit breaker, wire, insulation, wall box, outlet, etc.) that delivers the power from the me

    • by JSBiff (87824) on Friday April 15, 2011 @08:56AM (#35828068) Journal

      I suspect they probably are looking at the total energy costs to, e.g. extract raw materials from the ground, transport them, refine them, transport them again, manufacture them into finished product (potentially with additional shipping as individual chips and components get shipped from suppliers to the final OEM), manufacture and testing at the final oem, then transport the laptop and packaging to the final customer.

      If you look at that entire 'lifecycle', I would absolutely NOT be surprised to find that $120 of a $500 laptop is energy costs.

      However, the rule of thumb you give is a very good one - if you won't pay for the costs of the upgrade in energy savings (or productivity increases for the same energy spent, which is basically energy savings), then you probably aren't saving enough energy to offset the energy costs of the piece of equipment.

      Because, in a very real sense, if you are buying a competitively priced item (that is, doesn't have very high margins) cost is pretty representative of the energy that went into making something. That rule of thumb doesn't apply to luxury goods like Mac's, Sports Cars, etc. which have high margins, but does for anything with tight margins.

    • by amorsen (7485)

      At US$0.10 / kilowatt hour, that would be $120 worth of juice in a new laptop.

      At wholesale untaxed rates (we are talking developing countries after all), you should be able to get electricity at significantly lower prices than that, and the price for heating should be even lower.

  • Its funny how the computer / high tech industry manges to remain seen by general public as green. When we have always known its anything but. Old style smoke stack industry cranking out sheets of steel and similar is probably far less ecologically harmful than any chip plant. The other big issue is water, semiconductor manufacturing uses LOTS of fresh water which is starting to become a scarce resource too. Finally the amount of energy used as pointed out in the article all the energy use probably amoun

    • by demonbug (309515)

      When it comes to this stuff we drive cars until its to costly to keep them on the road, we use computers as long as possible, that means not getting a new one every 24 months and trying to make software more efficient so we don't need so damn many. All those unneeded animations impose a COST, they are not free.

      Damn straight. I use AdBlock because I'm Green, dammit!

  • For most purchase decisions, economics (to some degree) accounts for the amount of energy used in production. An exception is when some group tries to bias the market in favor of buying the "new, efficient" thing, even when it means that the "old, inefficient" things go to a landfill before their natural end of life.

    An important, but often neglected, point to make is that energy used at the factory CAN come from more efficient, cleaner sources. Or at the very least, the energy-related pollution may be

  • This is actually a good thing. If the energy use is at a few central locations then it's easier to implement energy savings. If every computer made was an energy hog it would be much harder to modify every single one to make them more energy efficient.

  • No way!
    It might be time to remember that mass production is more efficient than cottage industry, at-home lot production. Not that companies shouldn't try to be energy efficient, but looking at only the energy consumption of a place without thinking about how that energy is put to use is myopic.

  • Is what they're getting at here, is that the more "energy efficient" a computer is, the more energy required to manufacture it, therefore it doesn't matter in the overall picture whether or not your computer is the most energy efficient model on the planet, it still effectively uses the same amount of energy (or more) as a less energy-efficient model? Wouldn't this apply to pretty much everything, then? Are we just kidding ourselves, then?
    • by bunratty (545641)
      No. The more energy efficient a product is, the higher the ratio of energy used to manufacture it to the energy used to run it. This holds even if it takes the same amount of energy to make the more efficient product. It even holds if it takes 10% less energy to make a 20% more efficient product. Most products use far more energy over their lifetimes than it took to produce them. A one-dollar light bulb can consume $30 of electricity, for example. Even if it takes five times more energy to make a fluorescen

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